Happy This Week

I took Olivia with me to my nail appointment on Saturday. She got her first manicure. She really enjoyed getting them done but she promptly picked it all off on the way home! I guess she didn’t like the way it felt. But she enjoyed the experience!!

We also went to the Walleye (local Toledo hockey) game on Saturday. It was Olivia’s first time and she loved it. She got to meet all of the mascots and loved it when the players banged against the glass. She also got a huge kick out of the screaming contests!

We went out for pizza on Wednesday night. It was so nice to just sit and relax on a school night, just the five of us.

My friends yarn-bombed my front and backyard and hung up a lighted LOVE sign in the backyard. It was a nice surprise to wake up to Tuesday morning!!! Some of my friends changed their profile picture on FB to the LOVE picture. I feel very loved.

I’ve gotten a few letters and emails and FB messages from former students who wanted me to know they were praying for me. It’s so nice to know I made a difference in their life!

I bought the Taylor Swift and Sam Smith albums this week. I figure I’ll be needing some music distractions soon.

My friend, Diana, sent me this video. I’ve decided it’s my new theme song.

My kids and I named my tumor “Voldemort”. It made them laugh and we all get a kick out of saying that Mom’s going to kick Voldemort’s ass.

I am determined to stay positive and not lose my sense of humor or become bitter through this whole thing. I’ve been making cancer jokes and I think they’re quite funny. It helps. Like someone brought me a coffee the other day, along with a sweet hug and kind words, and I jokingly said to my work-wife Ashley…Cancer Perk! If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?

The love and support my family and I have felt this week has been overwhelming. There aren’t big enough words to say thank you. It helps to know we are loved and people are praying for us.

What made you happy this week?

Good Thoughts and Prayers Requested

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I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been waiting and waiting on some test results and couldn’t form thoughts or write about the what-ifs without driving myself insane.

Well, there’s no easy way to say this, I got results today and I have breast cancer.

I. Have. Breast. Cancer.

It still doesn’t seem real. I’m 38. No family history. I had all of my kids before the age of 30 and I breastfed them all. It just happened. I still can’t believe it.

I went in for my annual OBGYN check up two weeks ago and she felt a lump. I was shocked. I do self exams, but I never felt it. So I went last week (after almost 10 days of waiting I might add) for a diagnostic mammogram. They found another suspicious area in my other breast. So I had three biopsies last Thursday. I got the results today. Invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 1. That’s the good news. If you’re going to get breast cancer, this is the one to get. It’s common, treatable and we caught it super early. Thank God. All good news, right? I have an appointment at the University of Michigan on Monday where we will get more results and a treatment plan. I’m definitely having surgery and possibly radiation and chemo. I still can’t believe those words are part of my vocab right now.

We are in shock. And scared. And angry. And in disbelief. We told the boys but not Olivia because we don’t think she’ll understand since I don’t look sick at all. We’ll tell her as things roll along. The boys were upset but they’re OK. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I worry about them the most. Hopefully it won’t be as bad for them as I imagine. The worst part for me is putting all of this burden on my family and my friends. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and want to do something, ANYTHING, but there’s not much you can do.

Luckily, we’ve been in a similar spot before. This is similar to what it felt like when we got Olivia’s diagnosis. Very similar. And that turned out more than OK. We’re stronger because of it. We will be a stronger family because of this too.

We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much love and support. Our families are close, we have wonderful friends and coworkers and we will be surrounded with love and support at every turn. Thank God.

We would really appreciate if you would pray and send good thoughts. Pretty please. Prayers or good thoughts or good juju or whatever you believe in that I will heal and my family and friends will be OK. I have WAY too much life left to live so I’m not going anywhere!!!

Thank you.

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Happy This Week

I have the most wonderful husband in the world. Truly.

My kids are amazing and bring me so much joy.

I have a perfect Mom who is my best friend.

My sister loves me.

I couldn’t ask for better friends.

I am surrounded…absolutely surrounded…by love. So much love.

What more is there?

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

We finally had school this week after two weeks of break and four snow days!! We were all ready for routine and go back to school.

My Mom, sister and I got matching tattoos last weekend. If was so fun and it looks awesome! It’s a mother daughter symbol.

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I might just have the best friends in the whole world. I am a lucky girl.

We’ve had a free pass to a gym and have been taking the kids swimming all week. They are going to work with us on a membership just for Olivia to go swim! I’m so excited we’ve found a warm, uncrowded pool for her to use! She LOOOOVVVVEEEESSSS it!

I wrote four blog posts this week!

My BFF and I worked out on Monday and ended up walking on the treadmill for an hour because we had so much catching up to do. It was such a treat…working out by yourself is so boring!

You know how you think you can’t love your husband more…and then you do? That’s been this week.

A three-day weekend this weekend! Woo hoo! We haven’t had one of those in a while. ;)

What made you happy this week?

Simplify

Last year, my word for 2014 was Free. I definitely made progress towards my goal of being truly free…but I’m not there yet. But I’m still working on it. I won’t give up because it’s too important to me.

This year, I decided my word for 2015 would be…simplify. Simplify. Everything. My thoughts. My life. My schedule. My being. Everything. Simplify.

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If I want to say no, I will say no.

Simplify.

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If something comes up, and it will add too much stress to my life or our lives, we simply won’t do it.

Simplify.

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It’s important to our family that we spend quality time together. A lot of quality time together. The kids need it, Matt and I need it, our family needs it. In order to get this accomplished, I need to simplify my life.

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I won’t say yes when I really want to say no.

I won’t feel guilty for saying no and I won’t do things out of guilt.

I will remember that it’s wonderful, for all of us, to have Saturdays with nothing to do and Sundays free for board games or picnics or afternoon movies.

I will remember my priorities: Matt, Olivia, Gabe, Matthew. They will always be first and they will always be my choice.

I will remember that my children will remember the time we spent together and the love they felt more than anything else from their childhood.

Simplify.

I can do this.

What’s your word for 2015?

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My Children

“For me, it was a revelation. There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings. And My Conclusion Is, Since I Had Been in Very Good Terms With Anne, That Most Parents Don’t Really Know Their Children.” — Otto Frank

Every single day, at some point, I look at each of my children and think to myself “I am the luckiest woman alive.” I love these children of mine so much, it takes my breath away. Truly.

I look at Matthew and he’s all arms and legs and no more baby cheeks and I marvel at how beautiful he is, inside and out. Time is flying. Absolutely flying.

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I look at Gabe and he’s still got his baby face and his voice hasn’t changed and he hasn’t had his growth spurt yet…but you can almost see it coming. I know one morning he’s going to wake up with a deep voice and grow six inches and look like a man. I just stare at him and think about how special he is, how gorgeous he is, how perfectly Gabe he is.

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I look at Olivia and I just swell with pride. She is so beautiful, so loving, so happy. She doesn’t have it easy in this life, yet you would never know it. She is the sun personified.

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I talk to them about their days, we share highs and lows at dinner, we discuss friends and girlfriends and homework and sports and everything. But then they’ll say something that makes me think I don’t know them at all. There is so much about my children that I don’t know, even though I feel like I know so much. I would love to be a fly on the wall and follow them around school. I would love to get inside their heads and truly know what their thinking. But I can’t and I shouldn’t. That’s how it’s supposed to be. They’re becoming their own person, thinking their own thoughts, dreaming their own dreams.

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It’s so mystifying watching them grow up. It really is. One day they are your babies, depend on you for everything, and then the next minute, poof, they’re teenagers. It really does fly by. But I am so enjoying watching them grow up into these wonderful people they’re becoming. I’m trying not to worry about the piling laundry, the dirty floors and the constant dirty dishes and, instead, be so very thankful that I get to mother these three beautiful and miraculous human beings.

It’s difficult to put into words how it feels…being their mother really feels like a miracle.

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That Damn Elf on the Shelf…Who I love!

I know it’s really late (and maybe lame?) to be posting my elf on the shelf pictures, but we (meaning Gabe, to be honest), did some really cool things with our elf. My friend Kelly, whose kids are too old for an elf, really wanted to see pictures of all of the cool things Buddy did this year. So I’m sharing…a little late. ;) I have to say it’s soooooo nice to have Gabe on board so that, at 9:00 when I’m already snuggled in bed for the night and I forgot to do anything with the elf, he’s more that happy to cook something up.

This was my favorite one that Gabe came up with…astronaut Buddy!

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He tried the wrong cookies!

 

 

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Then he played a little golf…

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We caught him using my camera to take pictures of his friends…with mustaches!

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I lied…this one was my favorite! Gabe made a mountain climbing Buddy…complete with backpack and ice pick!

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He was our tiny tree topper too!

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He had to try out our new Frozen Trouble game too!

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He caught the Grinch and tied him up good to keep him out of trouble!

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He was tired and made himself a hammock…

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Buddy was hiding a la E.T. one morning…

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Maybe the time he made himself out of Legos was my favorite…

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Being our elf is hard work…he needed a nap…

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He went “sledding” down our railing…

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and read A Charlie Brown Christmas…

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and left reminders to be nice, listen and clean up after themselves!

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And was practicing riding Rudolph home…

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Being silly as a sandwich…

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and did some target shooting…

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and channeled his inner Gabe…

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and felt a little adventurous on a flying trapeze…

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trapeze buddy

and needed to relax a little…just like Mom…

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and ziplining across the dining room!

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He also got stuck outside one night…but someone forgot to take a picture! On the last night he left the kids a sweet poem before he went home with Santa. I’m always glad when he comes back…but even happier when he goes home! Honestly though, even though it’s a pain, we have so much fun planning things for him to do each day. We all love watching Matthew and Olivia run down the stairs each morning to see what he’s been up to!

Christmas 2014

Hey, I’m not that far behind! It’s only January 8th and I’m posting about Christmas! Woo hoo!!!

Christmas was wonderful. Busy, magical, full of excitement, too much food, too many events and more than enough love. Just like it ought to be!

I didn’t time the “all-three-in-front-of-the-tree” picture right…so they didn’t turn out very well. But, hey, it’s for posterity, right? They don’t have to be perfect.

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all 3 tree

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I love watching them dance at the Lights at the Zoo. Even though he’s almost 13, he’ll still dance with his sister. Matthew will dance with her too. They never cease to amaze me. And I promise you, my husband is never more loved or never more sexy than when he takes our daughter’s hand and twirls her around.

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Gabe got an iphone. He could barely contain himself. He paid us for most of it with money he received for Christmas. I haven’t seen him since…

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Matthew was so excited over everything. I love how you can clearly see the excitement on his face. He was the most excited when we told the kids we are going to Orlando this summer and going to Disney, Universal and Legoland!

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Olivia just loves to open presents. She tears through them like a mad woman. She got lots and lots and lots of stuffed animals and movies. Are you surprised?

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Before we knew it, it was time to go back to school and take all of the decorations down. I’m always sad to see the season end. Are you?

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How was your Christmas and New Year’s?

Halloween 2014…Better Late Than Never!

I realized the other day that I have many, many gorgeous pictures of my kids that I haven’t shared with you yet…because they were sitting unedited on my camera card!!! But over break, I finally loaded them on the computer, edited them and now can share them with you!

This was the first year that I was not home for trick-or-treat! I had a math teaching conference that went until the 31st so I thought I was all set…until our town changed trick-or-treating to the 30th! Luckily, Matthew’s school has a Halloween party the week before so I was able to get pictures. Gabe didn’t go to the party so there are none of him. He decided at the last minute to dress up for trick-or-treat but there aren’t any pictures!! (No Mom = No pictures.)

Matthew wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and couldn’t understand why, even though his costume was THE COOLEST, he didn’t win the contest. I told him it may or may not have something to do with the fact that there were at least 10 TNMTs there that evening. But he was the cutest.

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Olivia wanted to be a munchkin from the Wizard of Oz. My MIL put together her costume for me, thank God. September and October are pretty much a blur, and if I would have had to come up with a munchkin costume, well, she would have had to be something else or I would have spent an exorbitant amount on a not-as-cute-as-this-one costume. She was so excited to dress up, but when we got to the party, she wouldn’t get out of the car. Luckily we were one of the trunk-or-treat cars so it worked out.

Isn’t she the prettiest munchkin you’ve ever seen? For the record, I tried to get her to carry her Wizard of Oz dolls, but it was Olaf’s turn.

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Gabe wasn’t home when I took these or else I would have made him sit for the group shot without his costume. You know your kids are growing up when you can’t get them all together for a Halloween picture any more! He did carve his pumpkin. It involved a knife, after all. We also tried using the drill like we saw on Pinterest and, while it was fun, didn’t have the effect we had hoped. But they still turned out pretty good.

Olivia’s pumpkin rotted. Oops. So we were left with the Nike swoosh and a TNMT, of course.

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So there you have it. Halloween 2014. Better late than never, right?

Olivia’s Mom

Of all of my titles, Olivia’s Mom is at the top of my favorite list. I love being her mother. It’s a privilege and an honor and has made me who I am today.

But it’s not easy. But motherhood never is, right?

When Olivia was younger, dealing with her syndrome was so damn hard. It was overwhelming and heartbreaking and scary. The newness of being thrown into a world we hadn’t prepared for, the anxiousness over what was to come, the worries about her health and development was just too much. But we made it through and came out stronger. Olivia was our daughter, she was perfect in her own way and we would all be fine.

The school years have been different. Before school began, it was easier to focus on her and her needs and forget that she wasn’t like all of the other kids her age. When she started school, it was harder to ignore. There were IEP meetings, new worries and lots of kids to compare her to. The whole experience as a whole has been great and much better than we anticipated. We made it through and came out stronger. Imagine that.

Lately, it’s really been hitting us hard that Olivia is growing up. As in, she’ll be an adult soon. As in bigger, much deeper worries and anxiousness for her. As in…holy shit. We both feel overwhelmed yet determined. We started setting goals for her over break for the new year. We are going to find her social opportunities. We are going to find her exercise opportunities. We are going to help her grow. She’s had a rough year so far in school, and so have we, but it’s made us wake up in a way. We’ve been so lucky to have school go so well up until now. But this year, we’ve had to start being much more proactive and it’s made us think more and more about the future. She’s not going to be able to just stay in her pjs, watch movies and play with her stuffed animals all day for the rest of her life. We need to create more and more opportunities for her to be independent and find enjoyment in life.

I’m overwhelmed, honestly. Even though I love my job, most days I feel like I need to quit so I can focus on her. I just want to make sure she’s getting everything she needs and then some. Most days I feel like I’m not doing enough. Not even close. Before we know it, she’ll be graduating school and then what? We need to get her, and us, ready. It’s a ton of pressure. And, I’m sorry to say this to those of you who have little ones because I know you feel crazily overwhelmed and praying it gets easier, but it doesn’t. It gets much harder. But we’re in such a better place emotionally and that definitely gets better and easier. I promise. But the worries and the pressure to make sure you are doing everything you should be and can be is much greater. And I’m not even discussing my worries about what will happen to her if anything ever happens to us. That just makes my head want to explode. I’ll save that for another time.

I keep reminding myself that every stage of our journey has seemed impossible and daunting and, yet, we’ve made it through with flying colors and came out stronger. I keep reminding myself that Olivia is amazing and that we will do everything we can to make sure she has a fulfilling life. Even if it’s hard.

Being Olivia’s Mom isn’t easy, but it’s so very worth it.